The Australian education system provides primary, secondary and tertiary education.
School education (Primary and Secondary)
School education is similar across all of Australia with only minor variations between states and territories. School education (primary and secondary) is compulsory between the ages of six and sixteen (Year 1 to Year 9 or 10). School education is 13 years and divided into:
- Primary school – Runs for seven or eight years, starting at Kindergarten/Preparatory through to Year 6 or 7.
- Secondary school – Runs for three or four years, from Years 7 to 10 or 8 to 10.
- Senior secondary school – Runs for two years, Years 11 and 12.
Tertiary education includes both higher education (including universities) and vocational education and training (VET).
Language of instruction
English is the official language of Australia and the main language of instruction in the education system. Many schools offer bilingual programs or programs in other languages.
Australian Qualifications Framework
The Australian education system is distinguished from many other countries by the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The AQF was established in 1995 and is a national policy that covers qualifications from the tertiary education sector (higher education and vocational education and training) in addition to the school-leaving certificate; the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education.
The AQF has 10 levels and links school, vocational and university education qualifications into one national system. This allows you to move easily from one level of study to the next, and from one institution to another, as long as you satisfy student visa requirements. It allows for choice and flexibility in career planning. All qualifications in the AQF help prepare you for both further study and your working life.
If you are studying an AQF qualification, you can be sure that your institution is Government-authorised and nationally accredited, and that your degree or other AQF qualification will be genuine.
Our institutions are linked across the country and across the world, which makes it easy to move throughout the education system between courses or institutions and formal agreement and recognition frameworks mean every step of the path will contribute to your future no matter what your study or career goals.
Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act
The Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) framework protects the rights of international students studying in Australia, including:
- Your right to receive, before enrolling, current and accurate information about the courses, fees, modes of study, and other information from your institution and your institution’s agent.
- Your right to sign a written agreement with your institution before paying fees, setting out the services to be provided, fees payable, and information about refunds of course money. Make sure to keep a copy of your written agreement.
- The Tuition Protection Service (TPS) is a placement and refund service for international students, which is activated in the event that your institution is unable to teach your course. Read more about this service on the Tuition Protection Service website.
The Australian Government wants overseas students in Australia to have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding place to study. Australia’s laws promote quality education and consumer protection for overseas students. These laws are known as the ESOS framework and they include the Education Services for Overseas (ESOS) Act 2000 and the National Code.
The Department of Education and Training is responsible for administering the ESOS Act.
Which types of international students are covered by ESOS?
The ESOS Act applies to international students studying in Australia on a student visa.
The Department of Education and Training has an Easy Guide to ESOS and a National Code Explanatory Guide, which provide further details.
The National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2007 (The National Code 2007) is part of the ESOS legislative framework and it provides nationally consistent standards for the conduct of registered providers of international education and the registration of their courses. National Code Explanatory Guide – Part D
The National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Act 2011 has established a new approach to national regulation of the vocational education and training (VET) sector in Australia.
The Act also provides for Standards for VET Accredited Courses, which are in addition to the VET Quality Framework.
Overseas Students Ombudsman
The Overseas Students Ombudsman investigates complaints about problems that overseas students have with private education and training in Australia.
Whether you’re looking to move straight into the workforce, or to take an initial step in your tertiary education, an Australian Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification can take you where you want to go. Australia’s VET sector is based on a partnership between governments and industry. VET qualifications are provided by government institutions, called Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutions, as well as private institutions. Australian governments (federal and state) provide funding, develop policies, and contribute to regulation and quality assurance of the sector. Industry and employer groups contribute to training policies and priorities, and in developing qualifications that deliver skills to the workforce.
Study with the experts…
Nothing is more exciting than learning from someone who shares the same passions as you do – and who’s already been there and done it at the highest level. In Australia, VET teaching staff are not just industry-aware, but have actual experience in their fields of expertise – maintaining the currency of their knowledge, and modifying their courses to reflect changing industry focus and needs. And that means you learn not only the theory, but also the reality of the subjects you’re studying.
…And learn on the job.
Many of our VET courses incorporate a period of on-site learning, which means you don’t just learn in a classroom, but get priceless industry experience in a genuine work environment. It’s real-world industry experience that ensures your qualifications fully prepare you for employment in your chosen industry.
Our quality assurance
In Australia, the quality of your education is guaranteed. In fact, the wellbeing of all international students, the quality of their educational experience, and the provision of up-to-date and accurate information is protected by law – under the Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000. On top of this, a national VET Regulator – Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) – ensures the quality of our education to more than 1.2 million students – including some 230,000 international students involved in vocational education and training.
Private colleges deliver an excellent range of award and non-award courses throughout Australia including English language. These colleges are required to meet the same quality assurance standards as government institutions and universities. Most private colleges are members of one of the following industry organisations.
ACPET is the Australian Council for Private Education and Training. It is the national industry association for independent providers of post-compulsory education and training for Australian and international students.
As the name implies, ITHEA (Institute of Tertiary and Higher Education Australia) is an Australian Education Institute looking to develop and maintain close cooperative relationships with reputable and reliable education Agents.
Agents who are accredited and registered in the field of international education and who have placed students in different levels of Australian education should contact ITHEA.
List of Education Agents
ITHEA aims to firmly establish a leading position in the industry.